Friday, December 2, 2011

The Reactable

A brand new device called the Reactable is the latest invention in music technology. The Reactable is a fluorescent tabletop accompanied with electric blocks that have funky, neon images on them. When one moves the blocks around the table, pitches, beats, and various sounds are created. In short, the Reactable is a synthesizer just like the Korg Kaossilator. If an educator really wanted his or her students to become involved in learning about music technology, this device would be perfect! Students can have fun learning together since the gadget is not for one person. A simple lesson plan in which the student would create a modern dance piece, something that one would hear in a discotheque, would suffice for a final music project. For younger students in middle school and high school, the creators of the Reactable could allow the pitch of the sound light up on the block.

Official Website:
Example Video:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cross Disciplines: Music Technology and Dance

Korg Kaossilator is a useful tool in teaching music technology to not only music concentrators but dance concentrators as well. Acquiring rights to modern day music can be expensive, especially for college students. With Korg Kaosillator, the dancer has the freedom to change beats, rhythms, and create funky synthesized sounds. Specifically in modern dance, music is often electronic or pedestrian, so the features on the Kaossilator are perfect for constructing music that is inherent to contemporary dance compositions.

Specifically, if modern dance choreographers were to take a cross-discipline course in dance and music technology, assigning a project where they would learn  how to recognize and experiment with tempo and meter would benefit them. Therefore, the objective of the lesson would be to create a techno music piece that incorporates tempos and meters. Just so the dancers would attain a better knowledge of music while taking the course, I would reference the Classical Age  in which the sonata cycle was applied and thus, apply it to the creation of the project.  The sonata cycle followed a four-movement structure, which employed the use of tempo in this general order: I. Allegro, II. Adagio, III. Allegretto, and IV. Presto. For the third movement, the choreographers would insert a triple meter because the third movement in the sonata cycle is a type of dance such as the Minuet, which is in triple meter. The outcome of the lesson would be a creation of a 2 minute music composition for modern dance using Classical music knowledge.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Music Technology and Children

Lately, I have been grappling with how I want to teach music technology to children, and now that I have had a few weeks to contemplate another training technique, I am excited! It all began with FAO Schwarz in New York City. This toy store is always a popular attraction with tourists, and one reason why is because many people want to take a walk on the life-size piano keyboard. Google search “walk-on” piano, and one will see several photos of customers stepping on lit keys that play pitches. Although this may sound a bit extreme, how lovely would it be to have that in an elementary, middle school, junior high school, and high school classroom? Do you think the interest to learn music theory would spike? I do, and I am speaking as a college student.

Obviously, FAO Schwarz would need to create a classroom model of the keyboard, but just imagine the piano being cabled into a television or computer monitor. The lesson of the day? Learning Intervals. The instructor asks the student to touch the first key in a pre-determined perfect fourth interval. He or she then asks another student to complete the fourth by striking the corresponding key. If the students complete the interval sounds with the right key pitches, the music plays. If not, a buzz sound results, which would imply that the answer is incorrect. The keyboard would know that the answer is incorrect because the instructor would plug the perfect fourth sound equation into the software system before the children attempt to play it. 

The monitor would also be useful because as the children determine right and wrong answers, their bodies and faces would be shown on the screen, stepping on the keys. For visual learners like myself, I would be able to gain a better understanding of the material because I could associate certain people with certain intervals being played. This keyboard would also appeal to kinesthetic learners because they would no longer have to digest music theory in their minds. The remainder of their bodies would be instrumental in learning music theory objectives. This gives a whole new meaning to the term muscle memory!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finale! Who Knew or Who Should Have Known?

           For years I have wanted to take a technology course but was never able due to class conflicts. Now the time has come, and I am enrolled in Introduction to Technological Applications in Music! Until recently, I have never heard of the musical software program called Finale, but Praise God! My eyes have been opened thanks to Dr. Stringham! Composing music has been a hidden passion of mine, and this beautiful device allows me to do just that. It may sound silly, but I arranged “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for my first Finale assignment. I can barely express my elation because I finally feel like I am learning material that is useful for me to teach to future students and most importantly, for creating Christian music, which is my favorite genre. :D

Ergo, my mind is buzzing with so many ideas I can put into practice. For example, if I were to teach a beginner music theory class, I would used Finale to encourage students to create music that helps them visually recognize the importance of beats and meters. Placing the snare drum staff in my composition allowed me to not only hear the beat but see it as well. This is ideal because the use of Finale would accommodate the tactile, visual, and auditory learning styles of music students. I also would like to use the software to create spontaneous worship (basically Christian, improvisational music) for the band at my church and possibly venture off to International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City Missouri to lead worship 24/7 there. I have noticed they use Macintosh’s GarageBand as a means to produce their music, which performs similar tasks with different outcomes. In short, it still encompasses composing. That sounds vague, but I wanted to mostly harp on Finale, so I will discuss GarageBand on a later date. In short, Finale is magic, and I look forward to creating more complex arrangements of music, possibly Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings soundtrack? 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Retention. Retention.

        As a Music concentrator at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg VA, I often grapple with retaining long sets of instrumental music. This, of course, is a challenging task, if students, such as myself, are graded on this information. It is, especially, difficult, if many of one’s classes are music-listening based, as opposed to applied-studio based. My question is how then does one, such as an educator, go about effectively teaching students how to retain music from the Middle Ages through the use of innovative technology or multimedia? The 21st Century College Student (in particular) heavily relies on technology to further their academic and social lives. Facebook is still sky-rocketing as the primary source for web-based interaction because social networking has become quite the phenomenon. As a result, studying for classes can and is frequently put on the back burner. I say this as a general statement in lieu of the interactions I have with students as a current student. (I did not come to this conclusion through any statistical research.) Therefore, I ask, would it be beneficial for instructors to use Facebook as a legitimate educational tool to encourage second-year sophomores to retain Gregorian Chant? If so, how? Visuals have repeatedly been a great start, especially PowerPoint, but now it seems that college students are needing/wanting more than what Microsoft Office can offer. 
        Possibly the Nintendo Wii, PS3, or Bill Gate’s XBOX? The world of video games is booming because the generation living now is chiefly interested in live interaction through technological devices. If done well, the price of learning through this technique would be of no monetary value to students if university's fully give their extra dollars to see its mature and developed completion. Students could play with other students in the library who need the same knowledge while social interacting with students across the world since gaming consoles can be connected to the web. In addition, this new, pedadagogical implementation would probably encourage students to take visits to the library as many have been given the boot in numerous American communities due to apathy and low foot-traffic.